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The Reentry Project

 

Organizer Rachel Ramirez with leaders from the Reentry Project

The Reentry Project is managed by a steering committee of formerly incarcerated women and men, service providers, educators and advocates, assisted by CCH community organizer Rachel Ramirez. It addresses barriers to community reentry, with a focus on improving access to housing and employment.

In 2013, the Reentry Project Committee presented proposals asking that the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) pilot housing access programs for select ex-offenders. The pilot would allow several established reentry service providers to certify a small group of high-performing clients as qualifying for immediate access to subsidized housing.

In March 2014, Mayor Emanuel and the new director of the CHA, Michael Merchant, announced that they endorse the Chicago pilot, now named the Family Reunification Pilot.  The Housing Authority of Cook County adopted the pilot in August, impacting residents in 133 suburbs, while the CHA Board voted to adopt the pilot on Nov. 12.

Instead of imposing a five-year wait, the housing authorities would allow certified ex-offenders to rejoin family living in public or subsidized housing, or access their own unit if their name were called off an authority’s long waitlist. Each three-year pilot would assist 50 ex-offenders.

In its 2010 study, Barred from Housing, the Reentry Committee asked the CHA to end its automatic rejection of applicants who were on probation less than five years. Instead, CHA was asked to inform applicants that there is an appeal process available, and allow those who are denied to present a case that they have changed their lives. By 2013, the CHA adopted this appeals process.

For more information, contact the Reentry Project’s lead staff member, Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez.